Families of Uvalde victims reach $2 million settlement with city

The families of children killed and injured in the 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, have announced a $2 million (£1.57 million) settlement with the city, days before the anniversary of the massacre.

Nineteen children and two teachers were shot when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School, and it took police more than an hour to arrest him.

Multiple lawsuits were filed against Uvalde police and local officials for what the Justice Department described as a chaotic and disorganized response.

The $2 million going to the families of the 17 children killed and the two who survived “demonstrates compassion and respect” without sinking the small city of Uvalde into bankruptcy, said their attorney, Josh Koskoff.

“The last thing they would want to do is inflict financial hardship on their friends and neighbors,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.

“There’s not enough money in this city,” he added.

A report from the Department of Justice published in january found that a “lack of urgency” plagued the response of more than 370 agents from various local, state and federal departments. They waited more than 70 minutes before confronting the culprit, who was eventually shot dead.

The agreement also includes additional training and “fitness for duty” standards for Uvalde police officers, mental health services for the community and the creation of a committee to coordinate a permanent memorial.

Additionally, the families announced they will take new legal action against 92 individual state Department of Public Safety officers for “shocking and extensive failures” during the response to the shooting.

Koskoff, who previously represented relatives of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, said the state of Texas has “done absolutely nothing” to help Uvalde and “blamed less-equipped local officers” for what happened.

The lawsuit also names the local school district, then-principal Mandy Gutierrez and former school police chief Pedro Arredondo as defendants.

“There was an obvious failure on May 24. Everyone saw it,” said Javier Cazares, whose nine-year-old daughter Jackie was killed in the shooting.

“The time has come to do the right thing,” he added.

Looking ahead, Koskoff said a separate lawsuit would be filed against the federal government for its alleged failures during the response.

The Justice Department’s 600-page report found that police had failed to understand that there was an active shooter and that there were “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policies and training.”

The report also described “great confusion, lack of communication, lack of urgency and lack of control of the incident” as the shooting unfolded.

A separate report, commissioned by the city and released in March, found that the officers had acted in good faith and had not committed serious acts of misconduct.

That investigation sparked a furious response from some of the victims’ families.

The Uvalde District Attorney’s Office is also investigating the police response as a criminal matter, and a grand jury was convened earlier this year.

Several officials have been called to testify in that investigation.

Uvalde Schools Police Chief Joshua Gutierrez submitted his resignation Wednesday, less than two years after his predecessor, Arredondo, was fired for his inaction during the response to the shooting.

No reason was given for Mr. Gutiérrez’s resignation.

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